Unique scale model in the making: Tower of Vladmir Tatlin

News - 26 February 2023 - Communication BK

No one knows exactly how Vladimir Tatlin's Tower was put together. There are only a few drawings, sketches and images of the tower. And a limited number of previously made scale models; but are they accurate? Currently, Bas Vahl (Modelling Techniques) and Peter Koorstra (Form Studies) are reconstructing and building a new scale model of this extraordinary tower in the model hall .

Tower of Vladimir Tatlin

Russian Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953) experimented with cubist three-dimensional forms inspired by Picasso.  The Russian revolution radically changed his conception of art. In terms of purpose and function, art had to be primarily orientated to social aspects. He was commissioned to design a tower. A tribute to communist ideals. It had to be able to compete with the famous Eiffel Tower. His design "the Monument of the Third International" was to be built in St. Petersburg. The idea was to build a 330-meter-high state assembly tower with housing for the International Communist Party on the ground floor. In the tower itself, a huge spiral, glass conference rooms and meeting rooms were suspended. The tower was to rotate once a year in its entirey on its axis. The various components and rooms would also rotate once a month, week or day on their axis in the spiral.


The tower's design exudes technical ingenuity and progress. The tower symbolizes modernized Russia and thus the materials were also modern for the time: glass and steel. In addition to modernism, this was also to symbolize openness. No brick but glass so that everyone could see (in) the building. Also the height, over a hundred meters higher than the Eiffel Tower, was to show the West what Communist Russia was capable of. To show this to the West, the designed tower is slanted and overhangs to the West.


However, the tower was never built. Was it too complex, too expensive or technically impossible? What remains are sketches, drawings and a few scale models that no one knows if they are correct and accurate. Our faculty is now working on building a scale model. And in the Scale Model Hall you can see the scale model in the making. Large prints of existing sketches and drawings are being used to try to "understand" and recreate this complex tower. It is putting together a puzzle of which Bas and Peter do not know exactly whether they have all the right pieces. The contortions, tilting and the construction itself make it quite complex to properly figure out and recreate this scale model. When you see the tower, it is a pretty impressive model.

Kröller-Müller exhibition

The model of the tower will later be leased to the Kröller-Müller Museum in Park de Hoge Veluwe. At the end of April 2023, the exhibition Futurism & Europe will start there.  Tatlin's Tower is a prominent part of this exhibition. Later, the tower will continue on to Italy. The model will return to the faculty after the exhibitions and will then be included in the model collection of The Treasury.

More information

The scale model-in-progress is on display in the model hall of the Faculty of Architecture until about March 15. After that, it is Tatlin's Tower on display in the exhibition Futurism & Europe at the Kröller-Müller Museum.